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Topic: 4 Passes Loop-Maroon Bells< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
 Post Number: 1
TheDrake Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 04 2013, 7:56 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Being from the Southeast I have not taken many iconic trails that are probably old hat to many of you. I'm planning one trip per year out West now. 4-5 Days backpacking in early September 2013 would be the next one.

Please share your thoughts on the Maroon Bells 4-Pass loop. Over-rated? Over-crowded? Great trip? Best campsite?

Also considering the Winds and Weminuche (Elk Park) area.

Appreciate any input.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 04 2013, 8:02 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

It's worth it.  I would aim for a better flower season, but there will be more crowds.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 04 2013, 8:32 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

As big_load said, if you want to see any flowers instead of just a barren brown moonscape of dead grasses (Sept is nearly winter in the high country), it would be better to go earlier.

That said there will be no bugs in Sept., they'll have frozen by then and traffic on the trails be be much lighter.

The harder choice would be 4- pass vs The Winds. 5 days would give you more bang for the buck in the Winds.


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 04 2013, 8:39 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I've never completedthe entire hike but did take a day hike up to the first pass - Buckskin. It was mid September and was absolutely stunning.  I would venture to say that it was probably the best day hike I've ever had and I've had a lot of great ones.  Mind you, I had absolutely perfect conditions - 70 degrees, blue skies, turning colors, fresh snow on the high peaks. Very few people due to the time of year, I suppose. That sort of suprised me.   Can't always promisethoseconditions but I'd definitely go for it.

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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 04 2013, 9:31 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Over rated, over crowded, good trip, a few good campsites, never plan to go back again.

Snowmass Lake is beautiful, didn't care too much for the rest of the trip. Head to Wyoming.


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 04 2013, 10:17 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(kcwins @ Feb. 04 2013, 7:31 pm)
QUOTE
Over rated, over crowded, good trip, never plan to go back again.

+ 10000


"If You Print It, They Will Come".

http://www.backpacker.com/2010-no....31

http://www.backpacker.com/january....36

http://www.trimbleoutdoors.com/ViewTrip/256394


bla, bla, bla,bla, bla


Oh wait, everyone go there, it's the ultimate trip in the Rocky Mountains. The Wind River Range and the Teton's, Beartooth's, ,etc  with their 100's of miles of trail, pale beside this short loop surrounding 10 miles of back country.

It is in "Aspen" though, bonus cache points..


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 05 2013, 1:40 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Just do it...you know you want to.

It's one of the great, bucket-list hikes of the world, and 95% of the "overcrowded"  hikers are day-trippers who will disappear the minute you go over the first pass.

The spectacular wildflowers in August are more than compensated for by the vast fiery aspen-universe in mid-September...

Camp free at the Conundrum TH up Ashcroft Rd. the night before, and then hit the road back down by 7:30 am so you reach the Ranger Check-in Station before 8:00 am. You'll be able to drive all the way up and park your car in the lower Maroon Bells parking lot.

After 8:00 am, you won't be allowed in, and you'll have to ride up in the freaking, tourist-jammed, smoke-belching  tour bus...

Although it happens rarely, you should be prepared for snow-hiking. And there's plenty of water through the whole hike.

Also don't be intimidated by Aspen. It has the ultimate big friendly dive bar...the Cooper St. Pier...with pool tables, sexy waitresses, loud music, two dollar beers and fantastic hamburgers.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 05 2013, 6:54 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

The Winds are a no brainer and I've learned a lot about them here on the forum. And they're big enough to go back year after year and do different itineraries. But I have friends in Denver so I'm going to try CO next. I could go in August. I prefer the fall colors to wildflowers, but that's really splitting hairs. It's ALL good.

Truth: After the Teton Crest Trail a rhododendron tunnel is a lot less interesting. I'm ruined.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 05 2013, 9:18 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

The 4-Pass Loop was our family backpacking trek 2 years ago. It is nice and was usefull in sussing out an approach to Thunder Pyramid. Snowmass Lake is pretty well a public beach. The year prior I did some trekking in the area but never intersected with the 4-pass loop. Will be going back there again but on a self-designed trek. Highly recommend the Redstone Inn and Crystal River Jeep Tours, Redstone and Marble respectively. Have fun, whatever your choice. I'm not much of a flower guy and think Septemer in that area is the best. Leaves turning with a touch of snow on the summits, no bugs and historically stable weather.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 05 2013, 11:02 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(overthehillwalker @ Feb. 05 2013, 9:18 am)
QUOTE
Septemer in that area is the best. Leaves turning with a touch of snow on the summits, no bugs and historically stable weather.

+1

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Lamebeaver Search for posts by this member.
trail? I don't need no stinkin trail!
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 05 2013, 3:23 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

You picked a beautiful place and a good time of year to avoid the crowds.

Good choice for a first hike out west.  Watch the weather, as it's still possible for a late afternoon thunderstorm...which you don't want to get caught by above tree line.

It will get very chilly at night.  Plan accordingly.  An early season snowstorm is not out of the question, so check the forecast before heading out.

Stay hydrated and take it easy the first day out to minimize the risk of altitude sickness.
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Scott in MN Search for posts by this member.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 06 2013, 8:21 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

We did it with the family 2 yrs ago in August.  A little crowded but still beautiful.  We went clockwise.  Some bugs but nothing bad.  We loved it.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 06 2013, 11:35 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I was in much the same place as you 10 years or so ago and just started watching this forum for great trip reports and then started adding a new place to go each year.  All of the Rockies are better than anything you'll see where you live so just make a list and start marking them off each year.

Our first trip was the Elk Creek to Chicago Basin trip via train, then Winds, Sawtooths, 4 Passes, Beartooths, Teton Crest, Winds again and again, Sierras, Sangres and I still haven't touched Glacier, Cascades or Canadian Rockies.  All of them are unique and wonderful.   This year we are headed back to the Beartooths and I am considering also doing Elk Creek to Chicago Basin again.

Here is a link to several years of trips we did.  Enjoy planning your trips.

http://staggsl.zenfolio.com/
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 08 2013, 9:46 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

My first Rockies experience was split between the Winds and Maroon Bells (late July / early Aug). I preferred the Winds because I like being above treeline and that was the case for most of our route. That said the next year I went back to the Bells (later Aug) largely because I could fly into Aspen without needing a car or lodging. I did a variation of the 4-pass loop (did Hasley and East Maroon instead of Frigid Air and West Maroon) with some extra side trips.

FWIW, I saw just as many people in both locations. The Winds give you more chance to go off-trail and to more remote areas than the Bells though. I'd expect more snow in the Winds come Sept.

I have video trip reports on my YT page that's listed in my profile.
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treelinebackpacker Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 08 2013, 9:04 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I was shooting for this same pass in July.
Can someone refine the term "crowded" for me?
Does that mean a couple people per day, 10, 100? I was planning to do the entire 25 mile Four Pass loop.
Everyone says Yosemite is crowded, but when I went it may I don't think I saw more than 2 groups past a days hike away from the valley.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 08 2013, 9:34 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I'd guess I saw maybe 15-25/day while on the proper loop route (not campsites). Most were not solo so that was maybe 10 "interruptions". Again this was later Aug (23-30) so crowds may have started to thin by then with kids back in school (mine were).
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 09 2013, 1:41 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(treelinebackpacker @ Feb. 08 2013, 7:04 pm)
QUOTE
I was shooting for this same pass in July...... I was planning to do the entire 25 mile Four Pass loop.

That's why I think it's funny comparing CO hiking/ "4 Pass Loop", to the Winds.

25 miles is barely an in/out trip in the Winds at the shortest range.

Loops start ~ 40 miles for a very short one. The better ones will get towards 60-70 mi and the best trips are the long thru's that can go over 100+ mi.


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 11 2013, 12:11 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Yeah, but the three-day 4-Pass-Loop has a 14,000 ft. altitude change, and the Winds have nothing even close to to the incredible beauty of circumnavigating the Maroon Bells...

The Winds are a celebration of solitude...The Four-Pass Loop is a celebration of the human family and the eye-popping gifts of the Lord.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 11 2013, 8:12 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(highpeakdrifter @ Feb. 11 2013, 12:11 am)
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the Winds have nothing even close to to the incredible beauty of circumnavigating the Maroon Bells...

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. :)
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 12 2013, 10:30 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(topshot @ Feb. 11 2013, 6:12 am)
QUOTE

(highpeakdrifter @ Feb. 11 2013, 12:11 am)
QUOTE
the Winds have nothing even close to to the incredible beauty of circumnavigating the Maroon Bells...


Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. :)

+1

Highpeakdrifter is right about the solitude in the Wind's though... :;):

And as far as " the three-day 4-Pass-Loop has a 14,000 ft. altitude change"; if leg busting passes is what you love, the Wind's will put that stat to shame.

There's another feature of the Winds that can't be duplicated anywhere else in the US Rockies. You can hike for well over 30-40 miles across nearly continuous Glaciers only dropping down off the ice for tiny patch of dry "level" ground for an evenings camp if that's a flavor you like.

Here's some random images of the boring, flat scenery of the Winds.




















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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 13 2013, 2:42 am Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

SWT..shouldn't you be saying,"An undisclosed Wyoming location."
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